In 2011 I spent a month trekking to Everest Base Camp while living in Nepal. This was one of the greatest physical and cultural experiences I’ve had the privilege of experiences. Below are my diaries, transcribed directly from my journal on the trek, and photos from the journey, which I’ve been meaning to post for several years (I’ll publish the whole thing in segments). I went on this trip with my boyfriend-at-the-time, Eric. The purpose of this trip was to trace the steps of the original Everest summiters, Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay, who reached the summit of Everest only by foot (i.e, no airplane straight to Lukla like most people do nowadays). We did the entire journey with no guide and no sherpa, carrying our load the entire way. This is a doable feat, but makes the trek exponentially more difficult in a physical sense, especially as the altitude climbs above 14,000 feet.
DAY 1: February 14, 2011 Kathmandu to Jiri
Are we leaving today or not? The bus to Jiri leaves in 1/2 an hour…
(Later that evening) It is now evening at the Cherrdung Lodge in Jiri. Bus ride was quick and painless… about 8 hours by micro. Taxied to Ratna Park @ 6am, but the bus didn’t leave until 7:30am, so had tea for an hour instead, huddled inside a bus station shack covered with a wrinkled tarp watching the morning activity of the bus station – everyone silently and sullenly drinking tea. Bus ride to Jiri was uneventful. Stopped for expensive, but mediocre dal bhat. Stopped for oranges (1 kilo) and coconut cookies. Arrived in Jiri around 3 or 4 (I left my phone at home so I am loosing concept of time very quickly). Found a guesthouse (100 rupees/night) called the Cherrdung Lodge. Great deal, except you are required to eat at the lodge. We bought 8 eggs thinking we would Jetboil them with ramen for dinner. Then, one of the hotel guys told us that according to the rules of the Khumbu you must eat at your lodge. So, ramen was out. Had pancakes with jam and and veg momos with tomato achar for dinner. Good, but expensive dinner. Watched bits of Serendipity and the Proposal on TV. I think our guesthouse guys are disappointed that we didn’t eat more. Lodging is simple but good and VERY cheap at 50 rupees/person. Tomorrow is a big day of walking: 8 hours. A little nervous about the heft of my bag. Met a guy on the trail who was just returning from Base Camp. He had a very small bag.
Me at a tea shop in Shivalaya – not too dirty yet (only on Day 1!).
Day 2: February 15, 2011 Jiri to Shivalaya
Stayed at the River Guest House. They gave us bean soup to try. (Yum!)
A peak inside a typical teahouse in the Solu Khumbu (Everest Region). Very simple lodging, yet very cheap (50 Nepalese rupees per night). The River Guest House in Shivalya. A fairly typical (on the nicer side) tea house on the road to Everest.
Day 3: February 16, 2011 Shivalaya to Bhandar over the Deurali Pass
Over the Deurali pass today (3090m) and there was snow! A lot of snow! A sherpa winter wonderland. Got lost but met a young Nepali guy who works in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. He showed us the right way so we bought him (and us) a round of tea and coconut biscuits. Made the mistake of not asking how much the biscuits were ahead of time, so he charged us 150 rupees! SCAM. Was raining all day and bags got totally soaked: sleeping bag, clothes, everything. Over the Deurali Pass it was snowing hard. Snowball sized snowflakes. In Deurali had milk tea and pancakes with jam. Down from Deurali pass it was snowing the whole way, then raining. Met a semi-drunk man who escorted us to the outskirts of Bhandar. First we walked through a small bazar settlement and then into Bhandar, located in the valley below. Stayed at the Shobha Guesthouse. The place was run by a very curious lady. She asked all about our families (like, do we have a buffalo at home? what about cows?). Asked a million questions while she warmed her feet by the fire. Had veg momos and egg chowmein for dinner. Jetted out in the AM. Woke up to a very clear blue sky. A treat after the hectic, wet, messy storm of the day before.
First snow in Deurali! Warming up for a quick tea on the top of the Deurali Pass. Back out in the snow storm. Not prepared! The day after the snow storm, we woke up to a perfect, clear-blue day.
DAY 4: February 17, 2011 Bhandar to Sete
Left Bhandar early, but were delayed a few minutes out of town by a man who invited us into his kitchen for black tea. Cute kids who shook our hands. The man spoke very good English. He was a forestry expert and college educated. He invited us to stay with him on our way back. Had a great walk and descent to Kinza. Stopped in Kinza for lunch: biscuits, milk tea, chowmein, Tibetan bread. Was too much food and made me throw up in my mouth continuously on the way up from Kinza. Long walk up and reached the small town of Sete nearing dark. Stayed at the first guesthouse in town, and the first man who propositioned us for a room. Maybe a mistake? Nosey, pushy with food, no privacy, broken window. Awoke early in the morning to the jingling bells of a mule caravan. Jetted out early.
Little workers on the way out of Bhandar. Beautiful scene on the way out of Bhandar. The low-altitude on the trek to Base Camp was probably my favorite part: lush, green and full of interesting villages and people.
We thought heavy backpacks were bad, take a look at the loads the Sherpas carried! To add insult to injury, most of the sherpas were carrying their load while wearing plastic flip flops!